Restaurant Reviews

Try Tapas and Sangria at Bulla Gastrobar for a Spanish Treat

Braised brisket caldoso: Valencia style rice, beef, sofrito, piquillo confit, peas and chickpeas.
Braised brisket caldoso: Valencia style rice, beef, sofrito, piquillo confit, peas and chickpeas. Hank Vaughn
The annual Restaurant “Week” allows diners to try out places they might otherwise miss, and one of our favorite discoveries this year was Bulla Gastrobar in Plano, which originated in Coral Gables, Florida. It's another in the growing list of places in North Texas where one can enjoy tapas, those lovely Spanish appetizers and small plates served hot or cold and shared over a glass of wine or a cocktail.

The Joy of Cooking tells us that originally tapas were simply thin slices of meat or bread that patrons at bars in southern Spain would use to cover their glasses of sherry in an effort to thwart pesky fruit flies. Tapa means lid, after all, so maybe? Of course, there are no fruit flies present at Bulla so all this is academic. Whatever their origin, tapas allow one to sample a wide variety of dishes that can be enjoyed as they come out one by one in an unpredictable pace and order, but that’s part of the charm. We were excited to see how Bulla would stack up.
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Sangría roja: red wine, brandy, Triple Sec, Sprite and chopped orange.
Hank Vaughn
We started with a glass of the house sangría roja, a generous tumbler of red wine, brandy, Triple Sec, Sprite and chopped orange. Refreshing and not too sweet. We sipped these as we waited for our two smaller plates to arrive: our hot selection of patatas bravas and the cold Mediterranean salad.
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Mediterranean salad: Tomatoes, cucumber, chickpeas, olives, croutons, lemon, onion, EVOO.
Hank Vaughn
The salad was a mélange of ripe tomatoes, cucumber, chickpeas, olives, onion and croutons all mixed in a bright lemon and olive oil dressing, which tasted of the summer and provided a good beginning. The patatas bravas consisted of crispy potato cubes, spicy brava sauce and aioli served in an attractive metal tureen. The potatoes had a nice texture, but the sauces, while complementing each other well, perhaps overwhelmed the potato flavor a bit.
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Patatas Bravas - Crispy potato cubes, spicy brava sauce, aioli.
Hank Vaughn
The first larger plate that arrived was the Solomillo with blue cheese sauce. This came to our table in a shallow earthenware bowl and had four or five small, extremely tender pork tenderloin pieces. The meat was covered with just the right amount of melted blue cheese sauce that was not overpowering, and was topped with a scattering of Italian parsley. A couple of grilled shishito peppers and some hand-cut fries rounded out the dish. The only thing missing was a hunk of bread that could have been used to sop up the last remnants of that wonderful sauce.
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Solomillo with blue cheese sauce - pork tenderloin, blue cheese, shishito peppers, French fries.
Hank Vaughn
Shortly after, the second plate made its way to our table: braised brisket caldoso (shown at top). This porridge-like dish was a warm and flavorful combination of Valencia-style rice, beef, sofrito, piquillo confit, peas and chickpeas with a rosemary sprig garnish atop it all. The sofrito sauce was a delicious mixture of pepper, garlic, onions and herbs that combined with the rice and veggies to create a rich, deeply flavorful experience.
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Churros con chocolate - Traditional fried dough, chocolate sauce, dulce de leche.
Hank Vaughn
For dessert, we went with churros con chocolate and flan de coco, both of which were excellent. The churros came with about five warm pieces, somewhat dainty in size, along with a couple of sides of chocolate sauce. The coconut-flavored flan came with a scoop of passionfruit sorbet and was topped with raspberries and blackberries. They were both just enough and rounded out the evening well.
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Flan de coco: coconut flan with passionfruit sorbet.
Hank Vaughn
Bulla also does a prix fixe three-course brunch and has a happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m. with $7 house cocktails and selected tapas for under $10. We’ll definitely be back to try out the full experience.

6007 Legacy Drive, No. 180, Plano;  11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m., Monday – Thursday; 11:30 a.m. – 11 p.m., Friday – Saturday; 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Sunday
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Hank Vaughn is a freelance writer who enjoys sharing and overthinking his food and drink experiences, both good and bad, from his culinary journeys with his wife across North Texas and beyond.
Contact: Hank Vaughn